TIRUMALA: YSR Congress Party president and Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy landed in a controversy when he went in for a darshan of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala without signing the formal declaration of his faith in the Lord as required by temple rules for non-Hindus.
Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is a practising Christian, is learnt to have refused to sign the form despite being told repeatedly by TTD staff about the norm. He arrived at the hill shrine on Tuesday night after completing his first day electioneering in Tirupati and checked into a guesthouse.
Soon, the TTD staff visited the guesthouse along with the declaration form and other documents, but the followers of Jagan Reddy told them that the MP will sign the form on Wednesday morning before going for darshan. However, Jagan went into the temple without signing the form.
Jagan entered Vaikuntham I queue complex with an entourage of about 60 people for having break darshan at 7.30 am on Wednesday. TTD employees, who were waiting with the form, once again requested him to sign the declaration, but he ignored them and entered the temple.
Jagan is learnt to have claimed that he is the son of former chief minister the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy who had visited the temple several times and also offered silk clothes and gifts to the Lord on behalf of the state government. He argued that as his father was never asked to sign any declaration, he cannot be told to do it now.
When the media sought an explanation, TTD executive officer LV Subramanyam said the TTD completed all formalities for obtaining the necessary declaration from the Kadapa MP, but he refused to sign. “He (Jagan) told our employees that he need not sign the document now as he had already signed one in 2009 when he came for the darshan of Lord Venkateswara for the first time and that the rule does not apply to second-time visitors,” Subramanyam said. An inquiry was ordered and it is being ascertained whether it is necessary to sign the declaration every time a person of non-Hindu faith visits the temple, he added.
Responding to the mediapersons, Tirupati YSRCP candidate B Karunakar Reddy, who served as the TTD trust board chairman, found fault with TTD authorities for seeking a declaration from the Kadapa MP. “Did they ask for such a declaration from AICC chief Sonia Gandhi when she came for darshan here,” he asked.
However, TTD sources said Sonia Gandhi signed the declaration form when she came for darshan. In fact, she need not sign any declaration as she became a Hindu after marrying a Hindu man, they said.
Further, TTD employees told the media that Jagan Mohan Reddy did not sign any declaration during his first visit to the temple as claimed by him.
Jagan’s decision to defy the norms drew flack from political parties, including the Congress and the TDP, which said the Kadapa MP, who is in a responsible post, should not have done so. They pointed out that Jagan Mohan Reddy’s followers created chaos at the temple and raised slogans disturbing the sanctity of the holy hills, the most revered place for millions of Hindus across the globe.